By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: The mobilisation of Pakistani troops to its eastern border with India has caused some surprise here, as the US has seen little if any evidence that an Indian strike or military action against Pakistan is likely or imminent.
On the other hand, last week, the US extended an assurance to Pakistan that war could be ruled out, while urging Islamabad to begin dismantling what infrastructure may still exist that can make cross-border terrorism possible. Pakistan, which has been asking for ‘evidence’ for the Mumbai attacks, has yet to make up its mind as to what course of action it is going to opt for.
One theory here about the Pakistani mobilisation on Friday is that it is strictly for the ‘benefit of the United States’ and a ruse to have the current pressure on Islamabad eased. If India follows suit, it will overshadow Mumbai as the world would be on tenterhooks at the prospect of two nuclear-armed nations going to war.
Pakistan’s US Ambassador Husain Haqqani said in a brief statement on Friday, “Pakistan does not seek war, but we need to be vigilant against threats of war emanating from the other side of our eastern border.”
He said Pakistan’s conduct since the Mumbai attack “has been consistent with international expectations. There is no justification for threats against Pakistan. Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism and will continue to act against terrorists. We are a country of rule of law and need evidence to prosecute anyone for the crime of terrorism”.